May 12, 2017 News
The cash-strapped Georgetown Mayor and City Council recently raked in $111M for its coffers. The Municipality owes billions of dollars in debts, and with the parking meter project being in limbo, the council began hunting for other means of garnering funds. It came up with a programme to collect outstanding rates and taxes.
The initiative, which kicked off on April 3 last, has resulted in errant taxpayers coming forward to settle their accounts.
According to the Council’s Public Relations Officer, Debra Lewis, the programme will come to an end on June 3, and by then, those failing to honour their obligations will be dragged before the courts. M&CC is even threatening to seize the properties of delinquent taxpayers.
City Treasurer Ron McAlmont had told Kaieteur News in an interview that City Hall can still be referred to as being cash-strapped, since it is usually not in possession of the $5B it needs to sustain itself.
The Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) alone is owed more than $1.8B by the council.
Initially, M&CC had requested that the power company afford them a “write off” of the debt, so as to afford the council a chance of starting “fresh” in 2017.
GPL, however, had different perspective. The company ended up writing to the M&CC threatening to disconnect power to City Hall and other buildings that fall under its purview, if the monies were not paid. Eventually, the two entities sorted out their issues, and came to an agreement on the way forward with payment.
For many years, City Hall has struggled to be self-sufficient. It also owes millions of dollars to at least one garbage collection company.
Prior to the issuance of 700 notices, City Hall was owed a total of $382M in rates and taxes for areas like Kingston, North Cummingsburg, South Cummingsburg and Lacytown. Based on figures provided, the Georgetown Municipality is still owed some $271M.
The property count for Kingston is 248. An estimated $475,082,519 is owed by altogether, by residents of that area. As for North Cummingsburg, there are about 343 properties that owe City Council some $185,846,995. South Cummingsburg has 463 properties that owe $317,321,937, while 351 properties in Lacytown owe $115,484,984.
In order to garner more funds, the Council is also negotiating the possibility of instituting charges for garbage collection in the city.
Although rates and taxes do cover this particular service being afforded residents, the City Treasurer said that it is not enough.
“Times have changed, and the rates and taxes payments that used to cover all of these services many years ago, can no longer cut it,” McAlmont said.
There have also been reports of the garbage disposal companies threatening to halt services due to outstanding payments. So far, none of the companies have moved to actually do so.
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